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Political homosexuality – by Dr Ayesha Siddiqa

Can I suggest that politics is also highly gendered. Just like things fall in the category of masculine and feminine, political ideology also has its types. Considering my own bias for the feminine, I would argue that there are forces, which support the democratic process, and hence can be rated as feminine. Those that favor authoritarian-military rule fall in the category of masculine. In Pakistan’s case there is yet another category of political heterosexuals. These are individuals or forces that might pretend to be feminine but are actually the other, or they tend to swing both ways. Therefore, politics has increasingly become the game played by political hijras (eunuchs) or heterosexuals.

To give an example a few weeks ago Farahnaz Isphani’s company organized a show at the Pakistan National Council of Arts, Islamabad where the chief guest were the PM, Yusuf Raza Gillani and the now ‘extended’ army chief Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani. For those, who are not familiar with the lady, she is a PPPP parliamentarian and wife of Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington, Hussain Haqqani. She was formerly a booker for CNN before getting a job with VoA which she had to leave because of the company’s internal politics and her poor management. Anyway, the news is that this event happened exactly after her husband shook hands with the army chief.

This country and its politics seems to be a great example of political heterosexuality – everyone ready to bugger the other and offering their own service to the more powerful. Farahnaz’s case is not new. The government’s foreign minister falls in the same category. He seems pretty keen to become ‘His Master’s Voice’. Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s recent letter to the UN in which he objected to the fingers raised by the international organization on the military and its intelligence agencies during investigation of Benazir Bhutto’s murder is one of the many examples. Why should it surprise anyone at all? Its nothing new that the great sajjada nasheen has done. I remember a dinner party at the US ambassador Wendy Chamberlain’s house in Islamabad. She had invited a few people for dinner including JI’s Liaquat Baluch, the NRB fame Lt. General (retd) Tanveer Naqvi, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and a few others. I can’t forget how pir sahib was singing praises of the devolution of democracy plan carved out by the general and making all efforts to make the general happy. “Oh it is a great program and we are making tremendous progress in strengthening of democracy” was the pir’s refrain. He was then commanding the local government in Multan. It didn’t matter that his party chief BB, who was then alive, did not agree with the devolution formula. In any case, the pir from Multan has this toothpaste or a traitor smile.

The other examples being Zia-ul-Haq and the present head of the state. You don’t know what are they hiding inside. But who cares? Shah Mehmood Qureshi wanted to save his little fiefdom in Multan. This puts him in the category of political eunuchs which means that they are not what we think they look like.

The pir sahib’s political heterosexuality is, unfortunately, a manufacturing defect. He was born with it. He seems to have taken after his father Makhdoom Sajjad Qureshi. While Sajjad Qureshi was the governor of Punjab General Zia, who was both the President and army chief then, happened to visit Lahore data darbar. As the dictator got out of the mausoleum Makhdoom Sajjad Qureshi, who was also then the sajjada nasheen of a great shrine in Multan, put Zia’s shoes in front of him with his own hands. This is called saving ones backside or knowing which side the bread is buttered, and then really applying lots of it on the toast . But its this over-obsession with saving the backside which turns a lot of politicians towards political heterosexuality. While they pretend to be for the democratic forces, there heart lies elsewhere.

Moreover, this is not limited to the PPPP. Look at PML-N where the younger brother has been in bed with the military for a long time assisted by other political heterosexual like one particular chaudhry who actually looks like one in reality as well. Not to forget the PML-Q which is defined by its political heterosexuality. Deep-center, look at the great pir sahib of Pagara sharif who has played second fiddle to the GHQ. Interestingly, the pir sahib was quite powerful during Zia’s regime and is held responsible for thwarting the procurement of newer Type-23 British frigates and supported the case for the old Type-21s. The pir sahib is related with pir Yusuf Raza Gillani, Makhdoom Ahmed Mehmood (PML-Q), Tasneem Nawaz Gardezi and other political stalwarts. Marriage was a great tool to connect European courts during the days of monarchical and feudal Europe. Dig a bit deeper and you will find familiar names – people involved in getting the Bhutto government of the 1970s in trouble by leaking secrets of dalai camp to the press, or the legal community working closely with the military. Some would like to say “is hamam mein sab nangey hein” (all in this bath are naked). This is not about nudity but about political sexual preference.

Nothing odd in this behavior except that the elites tend to service their interests first. Shah Mehmood Qureshi or other pirs like him represent a certain vested interest. Given Pakistan’s patronage based political system, an individual politician’s capability is gauged on his power to extract resources (all kinds) from the state. This formula does not produce democrats but hijras. 64 years after independence the patronage based political system has turned the tide in a way that civil-military relations must be carefully re-evaluated. There is now an abundance of political hijras and military hijras (these are military personnel pretending to be pro-democracy while they just use the concept to further their own political objectives. Most just want to remain in circulation through the media and the conference circuit and not die away like frogs).(continued)

Source: Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa blog

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  • There is a picture in the above post on Dr Ayesha Siddiqa’s blog with the following caption: Do political hijras look any different?

    Quite an interesting angle.

    On a (relatively) unrelated note, wonder if Ayesha’s article in some way suggests a ridicule of hijras?

    Also, are hijras (eunuchs) equivalent to heterosexuals?

    Just a thought about the metaphors used in an otherwise well written article.

  • I always take Ayesha Siddiqa’s writings with pinch of salt , it is very hard for me to digest the fact that someone has such deep knowledge of internal workings of mafia and is not associated with that mafia.
    However I must admit that I agree with most (or all?) of what she writes.
    I am wondering if she has any insight into the letter written by Shah Mahmood Querishi to the United Nations. It is quite obvious particularly in the context of the “extension” of the “Don” , that the letter has a lot of significance , I am wondering what objectives army wanted to achieve through this letter. Is it possible that Army had bargained with Hillary to get the United Nations report “fixed”?

    Any ideas Ayesha/Abdul?

  • @peja

    Some aspects worthy of consideration:

    1. I find it amusing that while criticising the PPP leadership (Qureshi, Ispahani etc), Dr Siddiqa takes care not to mention the top leader’s name, i.e. President Asif Zardari. Perhaps she is hesitating to admit the following:

    “The current government of the PPP, particularly in the aftermath of the UN Commission Report on BB’s murder, must be, at best, viewed as a blood money negotiated between the army and the PPP.”

    اور بتلاؤں تم کو کہ کیا ہے
    یہ حکومت نہیں خوں بہا ہے

    2. In my view, it is next to impossible to turn back the clock. The UN report on BB’s murder is an historical archive with immense far reaching implications in a long term (not immediate) perspective. The ISI’s (or General Kayani’s) hope is not to fix the report, but to thwart any future international pressure on Pakistan to follow up on that report with an independent and transparent criminal investigation and indictment. That aim has been in the main (at least for the time being) achieved.

    3. Re SMQ’s letter (written by General Pasha, signed by SMQ): “The letter pointed out a series of “unsubstantiated” observations in the inquiry commission’s report, saying that its inferences hold no credence at any level. Islamabad is particularly disgruntled with repeated finger-pointing at the role of country’s security agencies, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and the state.. ” (

    Here is Ban Ki Moon’s response: “The secretary general has full confidence in the committee’s judgement,” the spokesman said. “He believes that the report produced by the commission speaks for itself and can be helpful to any subsequent investigation. The work of the commission is complete. The secretary-general stands by the report,” (\07\14\story_14-7-2010_pg7_4)

    We all know that no subsequent investigations are taking place, at least not until Pakistan army is deprived of its might and will to rule and ruin the country it is supposed to protect!

    4. Interestingly, SMQ’s drama at the recent India Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ meeting too was scripted by the ISI, and enacted by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister. The idea of comparing Indian home secretary GK Pillai to LeT chief Hafiz Saeed cannot be conceived by a bloody civilian. Once again, Kayani / Pasha are the men at play!

    In other words, the PPP is effectively in bed with the military at least for now.

  • Reminds me of college days when I was a IJT sympathizer and on my professor question I was JI political move of opposing BiBi premiership on religious grounds and supporting Fatima Jinnah for presidency as “Wou tou Iztirari surat haal tee”, the professor cynically replied, “tumhari tou taarikh Iztiraari surathal se Bhari padi hai”…hahaha

  • @Abdul
    I am in complete agreement with your assessment. The question of political players (leaders) being in bed with establishment is a very complex question. Politics in itself is very complex phenomenon and I believe in Tolstoy theory that it is the masses who shape the historical events. I personally think that the battle between PPP/PML(N) and the establishment in intensifying. I also believe that the battle will go on for a long long time , in fact for generations, we have seen 4 generations so far fighting with establishment and as the time is progressing we are getting nearer and nearer to what we our goal.
    The recent events have proven that how mature political leadership of Pakistan is. Fighting with most ruthless and inhuman army in the world without causing the mass bloodshed in the land of pure is a great achievement. We have seen how bloody this battle can be in Bangladesh , Balochistan and even in Islamabad , Lahore and other parts.
    Remember Faiz